Why do we swear

Selective choice of language has often been a point of interest for many psychologists and sociologists alike in looking at human nature and both why and how language develops. Many swear or “taboo” words that have developed over the years, for instance, come from a large variety of backgrounds and can be highly insulting to many listeners. Nevertheless they have become an important part of all languages around the world, with new swear words being developed each and every day as languages continue to grow and feed off one another.

Based on a number of studies conducted worldwide on language usage a number of researchers have determined that swear words actually pose a function in language many times akin to commonplace interjections used to show excitement or emotion. Beginning a sentence with “Hey!” or “Oi!”, for instance, can convey a number of emotional meanings to listeners that they may not be able to convey as quickly and easily through conventional speech. Further, as most communication is done by approximately 70% of the overall tone of voice and projection of speech these play an important role in conveying an overall meaning to the listener as well.

Swear words, rather than being used specifically at the beginning of a sentence, can aid in conveying any number of emotional messages (though traditionally they are ones of anger or frustration over a particular development). This allows the listener to automatically connect with the speaker on a basic level without needing a lengthy explanation detailing the speaker’s specific feelings at any particular time.

Further, swear words also act in societies as effective ways or venting personal frustration or anger and other people or objects without resorting to physical violence. This is why many people can be seen getting into yelling matches with each other frequently in social environments, however resorting to physical violence is considerably less frequent given the overall natural desire for self preservation all people carry (with virtually everyone in the world deciding that minor verbal confrontation is far superior to physical violence and possible death resulting from their activities).

Of course, don’t think swearing is always a bad thing as well. Many times swearing is actually an effective way for many people to bond socially as it can effectively be used in many jokes or other coarse humor that indicates a level of familiarity between the speaker and the listener and allow for greater bonding to take place than might happen otherwise. In fact, to indicate just how important swearing is, most people on average use swear words in 0.3% to 0.7% of their speech while personal pronouns (such as “we” or “I”) make up an average of 1% of speech, marking just how important swear words are as a communication device.